tv House Hearing Examines Role of Private Sector in Weather Forecasting CSPAN June 9, 2016 3:23am-4:39am EDT
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next leaders from a number of private weather forecasting and modeling firms testify about the future of their industry. this house science space and technology subcommittee hearing is 70 minutes. >> the subcommittee on environment will come to order. without objection, the chair is authorized to declare resources of the you subcommittee at any time. welcome to today's hearing entitled private sector weather forecasting assessing products and technologies. i recognize myself for five minutes for an opening statement. good morning an welcome to this morning's environment subcommittee hearing. the american weather enterprise is made up of stakeholders that provide services which ultimately save lives and property. among these are private sector weather forecasting companies that over the years have become a major source of weather
information. today we have companies that specialize in sector specific forecasting as well as companies which create their own forecasts that are disseminated to millions of americans. the services they provide are essential to protecting americans in the face of severe weather. this is particularly important to me as my constituents in oklahoma face some of the most severe weather in the country. providing them advanced warnings is critical. i look forward to hearing about the advances made by the private sector weather companies working on the forefront to protect lives and property. noaa currently provides important data which is then utilized by other stakeholders to construct forecasts many private sector companies also use their own methods and technologies to enhance this data. to me, there is a clear delineation here. noaa should focus on providing the foundational data sets that others utilize to provide life saving forecasts.
rather than duplicating efforts and technologies that are employed or could be employed by the private sector. as an example, the main tenet of hr-1561 the lucas bridenstine weather forecast act is its recognition of the role commercial weather data can play as a piece of the solution available to noaa. in the face of looming data gaps, we need to maintain continuous efficient robust and cost-effective data streams to feed the initial conditions of our numeric cal models. this subcommittee has a long history of oversight of noaa's satellite -- this is underscored my belief that we need to augment our space based observing systems by incorporating alternative methods of data collection. earlier this year before this subcommittee noaa administrator kathy sullivan testified to the ability of the private sector to produce weather data. she testified that, quote, in
the weather domain we believe it is a promising but still quite prospect to actually have data flows from private sector satellites, unquote. today i am pleased to vun one of the many private sector satellite companies before us to discuss their perspectives on commercial weather date at that. i was encouraged by noaa's bubblingette request for commercial weather which includes funding to continue the commercial weather data pilot program authorized by our house passed weather bill. this pilot program is an important signal to the private sector that noaa is interested in new and innovative sources of data. likewise, i was also encouraged to see noaa inner corporate a line item for the purchase of radio okay ul taigs data as an alternative to another constellation of cosmic satellites. the bill supports both of these initiatives and i'd like to thank my colleagues on that committee, particularly chairman culberson. in light of these directions from congress, i look forward to
following up with noaa to find out how these decisions will be made. i look forward to an in depth discussion today about how private sector data and products can build on the foundation provided by noaa to help enhance the safety of all americans. i now recognize the gentle woman from oregon the ranking woman for an opening statement. >> thank you very much mr. chairman and thank you for all of our witnesses for being here today. i'd like to start by congratulating the doctor who will soon be the president of the university for corporation for atmospheric research later this summer. today's hearing is an opportunity to hear about the successes of the private weather industry, learn about the impressive weather research being conducted at academic institutions and recognize the critical role that the national weather service has played and will continue to play in ensuring the strength and continuity of the entire american weather enterprise. the three sectors that make up the weather enterprise, private, public and academic, work
collectively to meet the needs of the public inspire growth and innovation and protect life and property. to maintain prot gres we have made over the last decade we must explore opportunities to leverage expertise across these sectors. more can be done by noaa and the weather service to strengthen this partnership and keep us on a path of serving the public even better. if, however, congress were to reduce the role of one sector or shift responsibilities without considering how such a change might affect the entire enterprise, we risk upsetting the balance and losing the progress so many of us have worked so hard to achieve. in 2003, the national academies released their seminal report on the weather partnership. fair weather effective partnerships in weather and climate services and their recommendations state the continued success requires recognizing the core mission of each partner. the core mission of the national weather service is to provide weather forecasts and warnings
to protect life and property and to enhance our national economy. the nws network includes thousands of forecasters across hundreds of forecast offices who support the critical infrastructure of observing, data processing prediction and dissemination systems. research taking place at our academic institutions advances the science needed to make forecasts more accurate while inspiring the next generation of meteorologists. the private sector has the ability to use both the research and nws data to tailor exciting new products to meet the changing demands of a diverse set of end users and consumers. although some advocate for disaggregating the current structure, i'm confident that the weather enterprise is stronger together in the 13 years since the reefls of the fair weather report the weather partner shap has flourished in the state of u.s. weather forecasting is strong. although we should always look for ways to improve we must do so in ways that strengthen each
partner not diminish any of the key roles. i look forward to the discussion today about how we can accomplish that goal. thank you, mr. chairman for your leadership on this issue and i yield back the balance of my time. >> i'd like to thank the ranking member and i'd now recognize the ranking member of the full committee ms. johnson for an opening statement. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman and good morning all. people in texas are very familiar with the impact weather has on our daily lives. as a matter of fact, there's a common saying that we have all four seasons and some days we have all of them in one day. in just the last few weeks terrible floods have taken the lives of more than a dozen people. weather has a universal impact and it is only through reliable and accurate faux forecast that's with we are able to act to protect ourselves. this is why the mission of the national weather service is to provide weather water and climate data forecast and
warning for the protection of life and property enhancement of the national economy. so while this hearing is part of an ongoing dialogue regarding the role of commercial weather industry in our weather enterprise, we must keep in mind that the protection of our citizens and national security are inherently government functions. that is why in 2003 the national acade academy's fair weather report provided recommendations of how to strengthen the existing partnerships between weather service academia and the private sector and not simply strip away government functions as somebody suggests. despite the claims by some that we must disaggregate the weather enterprise, it is very clear to me that the existing partnership between these throe sectors have made our weather forecast for reliable and more accurate. we will hear from some of the witnesses on the nws should
focus on its core functions and let private companies handle the rest. however, if weather data collection and weather forecasting are not core functions of the nws, i don't know what is. as we must work to ensure that nws's forecasts are as accurate and timely as possible, we need to make sure that nws has the resources and mandates to do so. it should also be in noted that nws weather data has enabled the growth of a significant value added industry. there may be ways that the private sector can complement and support that mission, but i'm very skeptical that transferring all of the responsibilities to the private sector is either wise or necessary. and therefore i do not support doing so. and finally, i would have hoped that the majority would have invited noaa and the weather
service to participate in this hearing, but i like forward to hearing their perspective at another time. i thank you, mr. chairman, for having the hearing and i yield back the balance of my time. >> the gentle lady yields back. let me introduce our witnesses and because wire short on time we have the prime minister from india here today, i'm going to skip the long and impressive bios and i'll just introduce the individuals here. our first witness today is mr. barry myers ceo of accuweather. our next witness today is mr. jim block chief meteorological officer for officer for schneider electronic. or snyder electric. our third witness today is dr. neil jacobs, chief scientist for panasonic weather solutions. our next witness is dr. antonio busalacci, director of the earth system interdisciplinary center and professor in the department of atmospheric and oceanic science at the university of maryland. and our final witness today is
dr. sandy mcdonald, director of numerical weather prediction at spire global. so i will now recognize mr. meyers for five minutes. we'll say three minutes to present his opening testimony. thank you. >> good morning chairman bridenstine and ranking member bonamici. accuweather is a leader in digital distribution and i'm honored to be invited to participate in today's hearing. the united states has the best weather weather information available toyotas citizens and its business and industrial sectors of any nation this result did not occur by the american weather industry acting alone. it was and continues to be the interactive, cooperative approach of the weather industry, the academic research community and noaa and its
national weather service that has led to this result. these entities form the nation's weather enterprise. american weather companies are now becoming the focal point for weather information in many countries around the world. for example, the number one weather mobile source in europe is an american company, a accuweath accuweather. we estimate that accuweather information is on 1.5 billion or more devices globally. it's an american business leadership academic research and government partnerships that are propelling this american weather phenomenon. some believe that the reduction in weather-related deaths in the united states since the late 1950s when the american weather industry was at its beginning through the joint and collaborative efforts within the weather enterprise have saved as many as one to two million lives. these successes were enabled by
the foundational partnership between the national weather service and the weather companies that directly receive nws data, observations, forecast models and so forth. which the weather companies and private sector meteorologists develop into weather information products for americans and for the global marketplace. private sector innovation and investment has enabled many of the technological advances in how american weather companies communicate weather to the public. at the end of world war ii about 98% of the weather information received by the public came from the government directly, and now it's estimated that's reversed that about 98% comes from the weather industry. and this includes special warnings for tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, et cetera. the 24/7, 365 acquisition and distribution of core foundational data, funding research and development, and
running of models and issuing government warnings are some of the most important things that the national weather service does. and those that the entire weather community and the public rely on. there needs to be a renewed effort within the weather enterprise with the environmental subcommittee through its oversight role to strengthen the foundational data partnership between the national weather service, the private sector weather industry, which industry is now woven into the fabric of american life. america's weather industry is a critical piece of the nation's weather value chain as the 2014 national academy of sciences report clearly points out. the private weather sector needs to be supported and nurtured by noaa for the good of the nation. if noaa does its part, the private sector will do its part by continuing to foster technological innovation in the development of more advanced and
sophisticated weather products, forecast services, presentations, and communication of weather and warnings to the public. mr. chairman and members of the subcommittee, thank you for inviting me to participate today. i would be pleased of course to answer any questions you may have. >> thank you, mr. meyers. mr. block, you're recognized for three minutes. >> thank you, chairman briden stine, ranking meg bonamici. i appreciate the opportunity to testify today and the opportunities for public and private partnership to deliver improved weather forecasting services for american taxpayers. my name is jim block, and i'm a fellow of the american meteorological society and a certified consulting meteorologist at schneider electric. schneider electric is a global fortune 300 company with 170,000 employees worldwide, 30 billion in sales, and operations in more than 100 countries. we have facilities with almost 300 employees in miss bonamicci's district and 360 in mr. rohrabacher's for example.
schneider electric is a specialist in energy management and automation, offering integrated solutions across multiple market segments including buildings, industrial manufacturers, utility and data centers. we maintain the largest commercial business to business weather forecasting and consulting organization in the united states, providing accurate weather forecasting for over 15,000 customers all over the world. we use more than 80 separate data sources including those from noaa. we innovate and develop specialized technology to take the noaa date ooh and add value by fine-tuning it and aligning it to specific customer needs. for example, we predict turbulence and flight hazards for over 250 airlines. we also help determine the amount of chemicals to put on icy roads for over 30 state transportation agencies. we provide d temperature forecat used by 70% of u.s. utilities as well as protect many sports teams from adverse weather. currently, commercial weather services like schneider electric
focus on solutions to solve specific end user problems. conversely, noaa provides general forecasts and warnings for the overall protection of life and property along with services that support those activities. this division of services between the private and public sectors of weather is very efficient and serves the american taxpayer very well. however, it requires more cooperation and communication between noaa and companies like schneider electric to be effective. some it creditics may question the need for a government agency at all. however, we strongly disagree. no commercial entity can operate the weather infrastructure that noaa operates today, but at the same time the multitude and diversity of end user projects can only be addressed by companies like ours and others using information from noaa and another sources. we offer the following recommendations to drive public-private partnerships and help deliver the best results to communities and taxpayers. first, there should be more and
more effective cooperation between noaa and the private sector. we believe that strong cooperation between noaa and the private sector is necessary and long overdue. and we believe noaa should have a regular committee that includes permanent private sector members. second, noaa should place more emphasis on the use of existing data sets from commercial sources. we believe there is a need to look at the relationship between noaa and downstream service providers such as schneider electric. we believe that noaa can benefit from our specialized knowledge of weather information end users. for example, schneider electric has built and operates the largest agricultural weather network in the u.s., which consists of more than 4600 weather stations located on farms where the data is used by farmers to make critical decisions on a daily basis. this is information which could be tremendously useful to noaa. third, noaa should eliminate decision support services that duplicate those available in the private sector. noaa should refrain from overextending its scope beyond data sets and severe weather
warnings. we believe the private sector can and should collaborate with noaa on any downstream user or business services with clear role delineation. specialized services have a marginal benefit to the public and needlessly tie up taxpayer dollars on offers that are already available in the private sector. closer cooperation with noaa could resolve such situations. we believe that noaa's mission could be enhanced and be more cost effective if noaa works more closely with the private sector, uses data sets such as the ag weather networks and eliminates duplicative services. we commend the committee for considering our recommendations and thank you for the opportunity to speak today. >> thank you, mr. block. dr. jacobs, you're recognized for three minutes. >> good morning, chairman bridenstine, ranking member bon meechi, members of the subcommittee. my name is neil jacobs and i serve as chief scientist for panasonic weather solutions. i'm i'm honored to be invited to participate in today's hearing.
panasonic has a public private partnership to provide its data to noaa which is an example of a sustainable business model for data acquisition. panasonic is very pleased to continue our long-term relationship with noaa to improve the quality of weather forecasting. the distinct advantages of our tamdar data will enhance the national weather service's core mission, the protection of life and property. tamdar provides real-time global observations of when temperature and moisture special and temporal resolutions greater than both radio science and acars. tamdar equipped aircraft and uavs also report real-time icing and turbulence which are rubtly used by the ntsb for accident ovgs investigations. the sat com transmissions doubles as a real-time back channel communication and flight tracking system. dr. louis ucilini director of noaa's national weather service said the national weather service has long recognized the usefulness of tam dar data and i'm pleased about the path forward to incorporate these
data in our day-to-day operations. dr. curtis marshall of the national weather service has said the provision of this unique tamdar data set continues to steer the national mesonet program in a direction consistent with thenik national academy of sciences network of networks vision of a broad range of non-federal data to improve situational awareness at the national weather service forecast offices and to enhance our high resolution model and capabilities. panasonic also runs a suite of models from rapid cycling regional models to our own global model including an 80-member ensemble. these models were developed through long-standing collaborative partnerships with both ancar and several universities. panasonic is the only private entity in the world with a custom developed end to end operational weather model and platform initialized from observations. panasonic has worked quocht cooperatively with federal agencies by provide tamdar data to noaa and the faa and many times at no cost. while we are a commercial
company responsible to our shareholders we also have another responsibility. to help share our technological expertise with meteorological agencies around the world. in closing i would like to call the subcommittee's attention to noaa document nao-216112. policy on partnerships and the provision of environmental information. this policy is intended to strengthen the partnerships between public, private, and academic sectors to provide the nation with the highest quality environmental information. the partnership agreement was approved in 2006 by then noaa administrator dr. conrad laudenbacher. it was development developed in response to recommendations from the national academy of science and the fair weather report. i recommend the subcommittee work closely with noaa, the american meteorological society, and america's weather enterprise on any revisions to this important agreement. mr. chairman and members of the subcommittee, thank you again for inviting me to participate today. i'm happy to take your questions. >> thank you, dr. jacobs. dr. bousalaki you're recognized
for three minutes. >> good morning chairman bridenstine ranking member bonamici, members of the subcommittee. let me begin by noting today's weather enterprise is a triad that consists of the academic and research communities the public vertical and the private sector. the government's traditional role within this triad is the protection of life, property and the enhancement of national security. this public sector role is grounded in the sustainability and dependability of observational data and models that have free and open access. create, customize and tailor products to a broad customer base of private vijds and businesses in a multitude of sectors. the academic community works to improve our common understanding of the system. perform basic and applied research that leads to innovation, and trains the next generation of workforce both for the government and the private sector. three work together in a public-private partnership that on the world stage is often the exception rather than the rule. this is a particular strength of our nation's approach to the weather enterprise. these three pillars of success
have yielded the world's most comprehensive and successful array of weather services in support of the public and private good. while the roles of each of these legs of the weather enterprise must continue to evolve weakening any single leg will compromise the not tire enterprise and negatively impact its diverse beneficiaries. we must also recognize that the private sector has been built upon, has benefited from the foundation of the free and open approach data models. as a result of this tremendous investment from the public there has been an enormous return to the public in terms of jobs innovations. >> i think we should act with caution so as to not do any harm and ensure that the marketplace maintains its competitiveness and no barriers to entry are neglected. in short, we need to find a workable method to strategically plan the entire enterprise. the last major study from the national act miz as you heard was a fair weather report of 2003. as a result of that report noaa worked to produce a policy to support the dissemination of environmental information to the public that was beyond just weather data. in 2012 the academy released a
report on weather services for the nation becoming second to none. that was an assessment of the national weather service monetization program. it had three main recommendations, capabilities, evaluate function and structure and leverage the entire enterprise. and that was the bulk of my written testimony. i believe it is time to revisit these two reports. but we are lacking a national strategy. and i think we run the risk of losing sight of the big picture. at one moment we may be occupied by the challenges of communication of satellite observations. the next moment by the potential private sector models and the next by procuring models from another country all at the expense of what may be best for the country as a whole. i can easily see a scenario where company x takes publicly supported and freely available models and data and adds unique value to them. company y sells some data to the government but withs holds some for its business purposes and company z has its own proprietary models and data that are not available for the common good.
is this what is best to our nation to protect lives, property, and support our military in the field? continued improvement in our forecasting ability requires that observations be reliable and accessible and forecast for the public good be verified, validated and transparent. prior to taking on my new position with ucar i was chairing the survey for earth science applications from space. as requested by the congress, all of the space sciences have a long history of these surveys, that the agencies are beholden to as well as the insight they provide to you, omb and ostp. we have no such activity for the weather enterprise. given the evolving nature of the weather enterprise, i would submit we need an active and ongoing strategic planning process as could be achieved by congress requesting a survey for the weather ent friess inclusive of midway assessments and subsequent follow-on surveys. in closing there is considerable upside potential for the nation if we do it right. we have much to lose if we do it
wrong. thank you. >> thank you, dr. busalaki. dr. mcdonald, you're recognized for three minutes. >> chairman bridenstine, ranking member bonamici and members of the committee, i retired from noaa in january after 40 years. fabulous organization. i signed on to spire global incorporated, which is a company that would bring revolutionary changes to our ability to observe the weather. i started my career as a young weather officer giving weather briefings. and the truth is we had almost no information. the pilots, their lives depended on what we could tell them, and we knew very little. i'm sure our chairman could vouch for that occasionally. but it's a different world now. the government originally a sole player in those days i think has now been enhanced by our growing
commercial sector, which i think if we have the right policies we can have a fabulous partnership between the academic, the public and the private weather capabilities to serve this country. i'll give a couple examples. i was back in about the year 2000 part of a group who said let's have a community 3408d, the weather research and forecast model. and i think ncar and noaa and others, nasa, worked on this. but the big thing that i think that happened was ncar basically said we're going to make this a real community model, to support it, to not have intellectual property issues and other issues get in the way. we'll have workshops and so on. it's been a huge success. so it's a great example of
private-public partnership. i think the fact that the panasonic model that neil jacobs talked about used the weather service gfs model is another example of that. i'd like to talk about the satellite observing systems. i think that the private sector can really brink some dine miz sxm complementary to the federal sector in satellites. a good example is spire, the company that i work for. we all remember when we went from mainframes to pcs. i think that's what spire's trying to do with satellites. they're trying to take a big expensive technology, put it down in a little tiny box and still get incredible quality out of it. so they proposed to generate radio ocultations from cube sats. i think they're going to have probably 30,000, 40,000 next year, and their goal is 100,000 cosmic one quality radio
ocultations. this is like having a radio son balloon that has a sounding for every degree of lat and longitude over the entire globe. i think it's important that we protect our federal sector. it's really what we depend on for safety, for working on earth system issues. examples of those are cosmic 2. we know that gosar and jpss are going to have a fabulous set of sensors. it's really important that we have the private sector be complementary to that. finally, i'd like to say i think if the sort of strength of the u.s. is its ability to mix the advantages of public and private, and i think that's our job here to do that in the weather business. thank you. >> i'd like to thank all the witnesses for their testimonies. members are reminded that committee rules limit questioning to five minutes. and i'll start by recognizing myself for five minutes.
dr. jacobs, i wanted to start with you. panasonic has its own numerical weather models, and panasonic uses its own data in some cases, and in many cases uses data from noaa and other sources as well. can you share with us your weather forecasting models? how does that compare to the gfs, the global forecasting system, or the european model? how is your model comparing to the others? >> so that's correct. we use our own data. we bundle that with all the publicly available data. we assemble that into a suite of different models. our flagship model being a global model. it differs slightly from incepts in the data accumulation scheme as well as the modifications and physics. its performance depends on how you verify it. if you verify it through the standard anomaly correlations it's slieply ahead of insep.
the european center had a upgrade in march. it's slightly lagging european center. if you verify it through other means, particularly case studies, there's been some major weather events over the last two years where it's outperformed both. if you actually consider the fact that we have complete control over the system, it's fully customizable, from a business perspective it's highly advantageous because we can write out files in increments, levels, and variables you that wouldn't normally get from the government center because our motivation is actually helping other businesses. we believe that the weather service's mission is to protect life and property. >> has anybody from noaa or the department of defense reached out to you to get information on how you were able to accomplish this? >> yes. i actually have some meetings at the pentagon lined up shortly. i'll be giving a seminar at insep next month on some of our data aassimilation methods. our software engineers are in constant contact with the engineers at insep.
and to the extent it doesn't negatively impact our business model, we do share information with them. >> and the intent with the model is to what in you want to license the outcomes, the outputs of your model? is that your intent? >> well, the primary intent would be to customize and develop products and applications to sell to other industries. they would be products you that can't normally derive from the publicly generated weather model data. as far as the government agencies are concerned, the possibility of licensing some of the software does exist. >> and my understanding is your model is a global model to establish the global initial conditions for weather forecasting. can you share with us, does your model have the ability to do meso scale forecasting or even micro scale forecasting for my constituents that are obviously hit with severe weather from time to time in. >> right. so one of the reasons why we decided to run our own global
model is every regional model needs what they call boundary conditions provided by a global model. so we run the global model to provide lateral boundary conditions to high resolution nested regional models. we currently run several different nested regions, running from four to 2 1/2 kilometers. and within those nested regions we can have high resolution domains down to sub one kilometer. >> got it. and mr. block, how has noaa reacted to your innovation with weather modeling and forecasting? >> they have expressed considerable interest in the -- especially in the ag network weather data that we provide. and we look forward to working more closely with them to figure out how we can use that information or even extend or expand that information to add things like soil temperature or soil moisture to the observations we make. >> awesome. dr. mcdonald, how many gps radio
ocultation sensors has speer launched to date? >> so far i think we're kind of at the beginning. we actually have four satellites and two testing satellites and we're just learning how to get the quality out of them that we need. >> and is your intent to establish your own numerical weather models as well or to piggyback on the numerical weather models of others? >> our intent is not to establish our own weather models except to the extent that we want to be able to test the value of these so we can talk to our customers and show that it's valuable. >> so your objective would then be to provide a service to others that are providing the model. it could be panasonic, it could be noaa, it could be others. >> that's correct. >> okay. i've been encouraged that noaa is moving forward with the commercial weather data pilot as outlined in the bipartisan house passed weather bill hr-1561. very pleased with that.
dr. mcdonald, can you give me your take on noaa's approach to working with the private sector to incorporate data such as spire data into their weather models? >> i think we have to see about the future. i think the ideas in the fair weather act and the experience already with private data being available that neil jacobs just talked about shows the path is there. so we're hoping we can have that partnership with the data also. >> excellent. and i'd like to -- my time is up. i'll recognize the ranking member from oregon miss bonamici for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you to the witnesses for your testimony. dr. busalaki well funded and forward thinking weather service is critical for the continuing protection of the lives and property of the american public. we certainly heard that recognition not just from you
but from others today. and we want continued growth. you mentioned in your testimony the need for a national strategy. i'm going to ask you about a couple of things. and then i want you to talk about what you ension as part of the national strategy. one, should we be investing in greater super competing capacity for the weather service and if so what would be the needs for the optimal weather runs? and dr. block mentioned in his prepared statement that noaa should leverage the examples of other agencies and have regular committee or working groups that include the private sector members. do you have any perspective on that idea? are there other models that might be considered? and what would you envision as a national strategy? >> thank you very much. so with respect to super completing the answer is yes. but if you look at one of the reasons why for this medium-range time scale for weather, predicting weather on time scales from three to five to seven days, one of the reasons why we're about ten years behind the europeans is in part because of super computing
but as a result of your encouragement noaa's now at the forefront worldwide in super computing capability at this instant. what we look is the budgetary, the planning process to keep us there. in years past we were behind the europeans. we're now at the forefront but for a snapshot. one problem. so we need to solve that. the second problem is this whole topic of transitioning from research to operations so that the nation can take the best of the best. wherever it comes from. not just the private sector but from academia as well. europeans are much better at doing that transition from research to operations. noaa has a plan called rtap, research transition acceleration program, that is going to try to move there. i think that's in the right direction. but one of the challenges going forward with respect to a strategy, so mr. block's
recommendations are very consistent with the fair weather report of 2003. 13 years ago. one of the challenges there is the follow-up. i don't think we need just another report onto itself but we need a process. so over the years i've done something like 20 different national academy reports. oftentimes those reports end up on the shelf collecting dust because there's no follow-up. and that's why i recommended the catel survey. because it's mandated by you. the agencies need to show cause if they differ from the recommendations in the decatel survey. five years into the process -- i mean, after the report is written there's a midterm assessment to see whether or not the agencies are doing what was encouraged. and then five years after that there's another decatel survey. so it's a process, it's not a one-off activity. and we're not talking here about a bunch of academics. it is this three-legged stool. one third of my colleagues here from the private sector, one third from academia, and you
couldn't have the feds at the table but you could have one third composed of former senior government officials now in the industry like sandy mcdonald. myself, i spent 18 years in nasa as an s.e.s.-er, then went into academia. so you're taking advantage of the best of the best. >> dr. busalaki i don't mean to interrupt but i want to get another question in before my time expires. the employees at the national weather service work tirelessly to help their communities and assist with national disasters. my state of oregon and the northwest have faced severe wild fryer-fires. weather service employees have provided tailored forecasts to help firefighters safely extinguish them. the national weather service is a public good. so could you explain why it's important that the weather service provide the baseline forecast and what benefits are there of having government-provided publicly accessible forecasts? >> the vast majority of what my colleagues have spoken to about here are founded upon the
publicly available forecasts in the data and again, in terms of the role of the government in terms of protecting public life, infrastructure, again, homeland and national security, we need to have the best of the best. and that goes back to the three-legged stool, having the private sector engaged, having academia and the research community engaged and having a strong partner in the government as well. that's in my opinion the only way we could have the best of the best. and compete with the europeans. >> terrific. thank you. my time's about to expire. i yield back. thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank the ranking member. as i pass the baton here for one second, i'd like to get dr. mcdonald to respond to dr. busalaki. you mentioned the movement from research to operations is going well. dr. mcdonald, do you agree with that? when you think about the high resolution rapid refresh model. didn't that sit on the shelf for years?
>> i think the high resolution rapid refresh should have gone faster but i think it's i pretty fabulous model and i'm excited about that accomplishment. in terms of how well we do research to operations i think a major point is we can always do better. i think we learned a lot where we said okay, we're going to have these big community models and everybody can work on them. a point that i'm making is we did that for the regional models. i think we want to do that now for the global models. and i think it's crucial. >> dr. busalacchi, you're recognized. >> thank you very much. let me be very clear. i think that's one of the fundamental differences between us and europeans. i think the europeans do a much better job of the transition from research operations. so again, what i was trying to say is we need to do better at sustaining computing and we need to do a much better job of transitioning research operations from the research community as wells at the private sector. >> got it. got it. okay. i'd like to recognize mr. weber from the state of texas for five
minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. these will be for dr. jacobs. i'll start with you. dr. jacobs, in your experience, your opinion, does the federal government, noaa, still tate, hinder, or resist commercial weather opportunities and involvement? >> i would say they facilitate it, particularly on the data acquisition side. so there's been a -- we've had a very good experience in working with them and contracting for aircraft data. it's been a little tricky navigating the redistribution rights issue. but by and large we're very happy with how things have gone. and i believe and they believe it's improving their mission, improving their models and improving their forecast. >> okay. well, i didn't mean to put you on the spot but i wanted to put you on the spot. dr. monld, i'm going to come to
you with the same question. and dr. jacobs, i want you to think about -- you said it was a little tricky. i'm going to give you a one-minute warning here. to facilitate some of that stuff. you'll get your chance to abuse the witness. dr. mcdonald, i'm going to come to you. same question. do you think noaa facilitates, hinders, or resists commercial weather opportunities' involvement? >> i think in our case at spire we have good hopes we're going to have a great relationship with noaa. i appreciate neil's comment because they've dealt with this issue already and he said it was tricky but they got through it. so i'm really hoping that in our case with fabulous satellite data we really have that opportunity to help the world. >> and dr. jacobs, back to you. your one minute is up. you said it was tricky. how so? >> so traditionally, per the wmo's resolution 40, most data that's produced by noaa's redistributed freely to the
other government international med centers. that impacts our business model because if we want to sell it to the european center we can't sell it to the european center if noaa buys it from us and gives it to the european center. there is a provision in the wmo resolution 40 that allows for redistribution restrictions for commercially acquired data provided it's defined as non-essential. so we've asked that that be restricted for the purposes of sort of force the wmo members into a cost-sharing model. so if we actually prevent redistribution then we get to charge noaa less because we can actually sell it to the other government international met centers, thereby sort of forcing a cost-sharing model on all of the government agencies worldwide. >> but i'm assuming you make up that income difference by selling it to the other agencies. >> we're currently in contract discussions with both the european center and the u.k. met office for data acquisition.
every government met center has their own special needs. for example, some smaller countries don't even run a global model. so they're only interested in their regional data around their domain. >> okay. this really i guess is a question for the three on the right here. we'll start back with you, dr. jacobs. do you see any bias from noaa in certain weather predictions? in other words, i'm speaking specifically about climate change, global warming, sea level rise. are you seeing any bias whatsoever? >> most of the forecasting that panasonic is involved in is in the zero to two-week range. every numerical model has its own unique bias characteristics. but that's more in the weather, not so much in the climate. >> fair enough. is it busalacchi? is that how you say it? >> perfect. with respect to the science of weather and climate, absolutely no bias at all. >> that's good to hear. >> what i say, though, is with
respect p tolled development for weather, the agency faces almost a catch 22. if they choose a model that's developed in house, they will be criticized by the external community for a not invented here syndrome. if they choose a model from the community that's not invented within the agency, they're going to get criticized, why are you making this investment inside the agency when you can get it outside? so they're darned if they do and they're darned if they don't. >> i'm going to move over to you, dr. mcdonald. >> i do not see bias. i see scientists who argue about all aspects of it. and with reports like ipcc and others i think it's well represented, and no, i don't see a bias. >> okay. >> mr. chairman, i yield back. >> dr. jacobs, it's a follow-up. if your goal is to sell data to the europeans or sell data to noaa, why did you build your own
model? >> part reason for that was we can't fully subsidize the cost of collecting the data. so to run the data off the aircraft through sat com is quite expensive. we have offset that by generating products and services. the main reason why we actually run the models is to do quality control on the data. because what we wanted to do is have the customers get the best value and impact of the data. >> so it's to test the data. >> when we do provide the data we provide a set of quality control flags along with the data. those are derived from the data simulation component in our model. >> i'd like to recognize the ranking member of the full committee miss johnson for five minutes. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman. dr. busalacchi, i think what i'm hearing is the nws and the u.s.
best work together and are at their best working together. is that right? >> that's correct. again, i think a unique strength of our approach, the u.s. approach to the nation's weather enterprise, is when the government, the private sector, and the research community are working together, all towards the common purpose. that's correct. >> i have seen a great improvement in weather predictions. and i hope that will continue to improve because i've also seen where it saved a lot of lives even though in many cases there might be property destroyed. lives are being saved because of those projections. and people have time to get out of the way. we also talk a lot on this committee about changes killing jobs. and i'm trying to figure out if it's privatized what would
happen to these seasoned employ ees that are government workers. >> i'm sure there's great concern within the agency. i used to be -- the two of us used to be civil servants. so they provide this core support that has allowed over the last 20 years my colleagues here in the private sector to build off that. if that core support is gone, we may have some near-term gains. but in the mid to long term the enterprise may well collapse on itself because that core of the data and these foundational models just won't be there for the private sector to flourish. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i yield back. >> the gentle lady yields back. i'd like to recognize the gentleman from texas, mr. babin, for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i appreciate it. and thank you, witnesses, for being here. i'd like to ask my first question of mr. meyers of accuweather.
mr. meyers, who makes up the american weather industry, quote unquote? and what steps could be taken to improve cooperative relationships between noaa and these companies? if you could elaborate on that, i would appreciate it. >> well, i think different people have different definitions of what constitutes the american weather industry. if you look at some of the groups like the weather coalition or the american weather and climate industry association, they're very welcoming of all members who touch upon any form of weather information and forecasts from the data collection itself all the way through the modeling to the distributors of information. so i think the definition is relatively broad. your second question was?
>> what could we do to improve cooperative relationships between noaa and these particular companies that you just mentioned? >> well, this has been an ongoing effort, at least that i've been involved in, for 20-some years actively. and i think that it has generally improved. if you looked at a chart, it would be on the upswing. i think there needs to be further interaction at all levels of noaa. i think that noaa could benefit from better understanding exactly what the value is that the weather industry brings to the whole weather enterprise. we do get a lot of that recognition now in many of the management areas that a number of years ago when you talked about these things that it was looked upon as though we were competing somehow with what the government does. but quite to the contrary, i have been here to testify and in other committees many times in
support of funding for noaa and the job that they do. i think that things like the ice week committee and part of the s.a.b. for noaa has over the last six or seven years it's been in existence, has been very beneficial and interacting and enhancing that communication. and i think activities like that need to continue and be strengthened. >> okay. thank you. in your mind what is the goal of weather forecasts in the future? how far out will we be able to accurately predict the weather? and are there specific goals for the next five, ten, fifteen years? >> well, i know at accuweather we're constantly pushing the envelope and we sometimes get criticized for doing so. we launched a 90-day forecast, for example, that has hour by-hour predictions in it that some have made a joke of. but the fact is there's actual science behind it.
i know when we first started introducing the five-day forecast decades ago people said the same thing, you can't do it. i think that there is no end to what you can do. our accuracy, for example, with tornado and hurricane forecasting is literally amazing. we have had plants evacuated 20 minutes before they've been totally destroyed by tornadoes and saved all our lives inside. the u.s. congress in its report on hurricane katrina talked about how accuweather was in fact the only organization that had it right and far enough in advance. so there are lots of things that can be done. i think that better understanding of what in fact the private sector does in forecasting is very important because we do specialize in a number of areas and activities and even outside independent sources now that do ranking of forecasts have shown that the accuweather forecasts are
actually statistically more valid than anybody's. there are ways that happens. it's not just magic. >> absolutely. thank you very much. mr. chairman, i yield back the balance of my time. >> the gentleman yields back. i recognize the gentleman from colorado, mr. perlmutter. >> thank you. i was told i had to go the very, very, very last since i'm not on the committee. so i'm happy to go or i'm happy to wait my turn. >> we'll let you go. >> thank you, sir. and to the panelists from colorado, welcome. dr. mcdonald, good to see you. dr. busalacchi, nice to have you. and gentlemen, i appreciate the testimony. because one of the things i'm hearing generally is there's an effort to work together. to improve weather forecast iin predictions across the board. and as we've talked about in this committee, for life, for property, for commerce. looking at those things.
and a lot of the conversation we've had when it comes to industry participating in weather forecasting is really just a matter of contract. who's going to get this advantage, who gets that advantage, who gets the redistribution rights. what are the royalties. those kinds of things. and if you're actually having a conversation and a dialogue, which it sounds like you are, then you can work out those contractual matters. and i appreciate the efforts being taken by everybody in this respect. and dr. busalacchi, congratulations on your appointment to head ucar. and obviously, that's a very important organization for colorado at the national climate and atmospheric research center. so i appreciate the efforts to continue to work together because i do think it's a three-legged stool, as you're talking about. you've got academia. the private sector.
and government. because the one thing we know is the private sector is interested in profits. and that's okay. that's the way it works. and if they're in profits then the question is is that private company going to be altruistic and look out for the public good. sometimes maybe yes but mostly no because they've got to talk to their shareholders and provide for their shareholders. so having given that little speech, dr. busalacchi, some entities such as some of the companies represented today that the weather service should focus on its core forecasting functions and should not duplicate services that are already provided by the private sector. what's your opinion of that? although i'm not sure i ever heard them say that. >> i didn't either. one of the issues is who's going to arbitrate? so again, the role of the government as i said before is protection of life, property, support of economic competitiveness and homeland
national security. and to do that the government needs to be on the cutting edge and have these foundational data sets where we are the best in the world and then also have these free and open models so that my colleagues here can build upon it. but again, those models need to be the best of the best. and as my colleague sandy mentioned, the best way of having being the best of the best is this community approach taking advantage of the strengths of the academic community and the strengths of the private sector so that these core foundational models are at the forefront and the world's best. >> i'm going to turn to you, dr. mcdonald. just a second. but i wanted to thank all three legs of the stool, academia, government, and private industry. we had some constituents who were missing during cyclone winston. down in fiji area, which was a huge storm down there. and among the three we were able to determine even though there was no communication that the path of the storm kind of bypassed them.
and it brought a lot of comfort to the family members in my district. so ncar and ucar helped me. noaa helped me. and digital globe and a number of other companies. so thank you. so dr. mcdonald, my question to you is now that you move from the noaa world to spire how do you see the collaboration and cooperation? >> i think it's going to take time to, you know, learn how to get the kind of relationships that we need. what i see is i joined spire basically because i see a fabulous capability that could come available, you know, very quick and that i don't think would in the normal course of our federal acquisition be available near as fast.
so my hope is we work great together and we get better weather forecasts a lot sooner because of this situation. >> thank you. i yield back. thank you, mr. chairman, for letting me go out of order. >> the gentleman yields back. a couple of important points i'd like to make. because there is a balancing act here between the public good and the private sector. and i think all of us on both sides of the aisle agree that we absolutely must have a government backbone because it is for the lives and safety of our citizens but also for the property of americans. so i agree with that completely. i also believe that there's a commercial industry launching. weather it's device that's are on aircraft or whether it's devices that are on satellites at the end of the day, they're going to be selling data to the commercial sector. and if by selling to noaa noaa gives the data away for free, then they will never sell to noaa and the public sector will miss out on critically valuable pieces of information that ultimately could save lives and
property. so this is a balancing act that we're going to have to figure out why this committee is so important. i'd like to recognize mr. westerman for two minutes. we have to be on the floor of the house technically at 10:35. so we're going to go to two-minute questions. get your most important ones ready and we'll goat from there. mr. westerman, you're recognized for two minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. mr. meyers, you reference in your testimony the widespread use of smart devices these days. with the ever-expanding availability of crowdsourcing as a tool such as with the success of the traffic app waze, do you see this being applied to weather reporting in any way? >> yes, absolutely, it will be. the collection of information through crowdsourcing, through vehicle sensors and a whole host of other things is an important area. it's one that we have worked in extensively. we had one of the first patents having to do with the collection and reporting of severe weather
through weather devices. it's interesting, by the way, for the committee we licensed for free to the national weather service because they were using that capability. and we felt it was so important. people talk about the private sector. but if you look at the company mission for accuweather it starts out to protect lives and property not to make a profit. not that we don't want to make a profit. it's our mission statement. yes, it is. in fact, if you look at ours and the weather services next to each other you have a very hard time distinguishing the difference. i think that's true of most of the people in the field they feel a strong obligation to the public to do these things. and constantly looking for ways to improve by using this kind of information. >> and because we're limited in time i'll just ask mr. block if he'd like to add to that. >> i certainly agree with a lot
of the things that barry is saying. in fact, we serve, my company serves over 1,000 public emergency managers with our systems and our capabilities. and a lot of that information comes from noaa but it's disseminated -- our systems are actually the means of dissemination. for snyder electric it's very important we continue to work closely with noaa and make sure that beer not in a competitive situation but in a cooperative one. >> yield back, mr. chairman. >> the gentleman yields back. the gentleman from alabama, mr. palmer, is recognized for two minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. mr. jacobs, i read an article where it talked about panasonic's weather-forecasting model that's among the best and maybe even the very best in the world. and there were some questions raised about whether or not panasonic would share that model with other -- with noaa or other organizations.
could you comment on that, please? >> yes. we do intend to share the information. what sort of form the information is shared in may depend on the licensing arrangement and redistribution rights obviously. sharing the gridded data would be a lot different than sharing visual plots of model output, which can convey the same information. but the gridded data can actually be used for product generation. and if they redistributed the gridded data it would negatively impact our business model. there are certain things that we can provide the weather service with to help improve their mission that wouldn't negatively impact our business model. and we would certainly do that. >> how would panasonic share information, for instance, with noaa? you know, to provide necessary information to protect lives and property. >> a good example of that would be the aircraft data. we currently have a contract to sell noaa a subset of our
aircraft data. but in times in the past when there's been a national emergency we typically define that as when the national weather service decides to do supplemental radio-son launches at 16 and 18 z. when those alerts are issued, we will activate the full feed to pipe them the remainder of the data at no charge. >> well, considering that panasonic claims to have the world's best, and i hope you do, i think this committee would join me in looking forward to seeing that model. i yield back. >> the gentleman yields back. and i'd like to -- for mr. meyers regarding giving the data away for free, from my assessment, i absolutely 100% am committed. if the government is creating the data with taxpayer money, that is public data and i fully support making sure that that data is available to the world as part of our wmo-40 agreements. it's the commercial data that is
licensed that we have to be concerned about because if we don't do it right then that commercial data will never be created and if it's not created then it can't be a public good for anybody. i'm going to go to mr. rohrabacher here in a few minutes. miss bonamici had a quick question. would you mind if i yielded to her for one minute? >> thank you, mr. chairman. i just wondered dr. busalacchi if you could address what processes are involved in validating the forecasts by the national weather service because if we're talking about contemplating greater use of private data forecast or smoltds there be some similar validation or verification process before potential use in operational nwms forecasts? >> anything in the public domain is fully vetted. it's transparent. when dealing with the private sector we have to talk about validation, verification, transparency. our particular company-r they getting the right results, or good results for the right reason? can it be replicated? can it be tested?
that's all part and parsing of the scientific method. but at the same time sometimes that's in conflict with intellectual property. but in terms of the public good, has to be transparent, has to be traceable, in the peer reviewed literature. absolutely. >> the gentlelady yields back. i now recognize mr. rohrabacher for two minutes. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman. just some fundamental -- how many weather satellites are there? does anyone -- when was the first weather satellite put into orbit? >> i believe that the first weather satellite was launched in the early 1960s. it was a viewer on the tyro satellite. >> i remember -- mr. chairman, i remember that sitting through a hurricane back in the 1950s we had almost no advance notice on it. let's just note that what we're
talking about here saves not only lives, which are very important, probably thousands of lives, but also billions and billions of dollars. in that way this is an industry that's paying for itself in so many ways. and the fact that the private sector is now deeply involved in this, i think this is a very -- an american story of success. and i want to thank the witnesses for enlightening us today as to the details. one last -- i'm sorry. perhaps i'm a little bit more controversial question is are we experiencing more severe weather incidences today than they did 100 years ago? just a yes or no down the line, if i could. >> not being a scientist, i'm going to pass on that question. >> all right. >> i think the answer is yes,
there is more -- there are more instances of severe weather but it's largely a function of the population and the urbanized areas increasing in size. so there's more people to observe them. >> i would agree with that answer. i think that there's a lot more observations. so it tends to show -- >> so in other words, it's not more severe weather, it's just that we see more of it. especially now that we have so many satellites up there. >> well, we don't necessarily know for sure because the inverse of that would be there were no observing systems or observers back then. so we don't know if it was happening or not. >> all right. >> so where we have long continuous record we do see an increase in extremes. in addition, we have an increase in population that's becoming more vulnerable to those extremes. >> i think tony's answer captures my thoughts. >> thank you very much, mr.
chairman. >> the gentleman yields back. i'd like to thank the witnesses for their valuable testimony and the members for their questions. the record will remain open for two weeks for additional comments and written questions from members. this hearing is adjourned. thank you so much. >> on american history tv on c-span 3, sunday morning we'll simulcast c-span's washington journal live from 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. eastern with guest craig shirley, author of "reagan's revolution: the untold story of the campaign that started it all." then at 10:00 on road to the white house the 1976 republican national convention and a close race between president gerald ford and former california governor ronald reagan for the nomination. see ford's acceptance speech and remarks by ronald reagan. >> i believe the republican party has a platform that is a banner of bold unmistakable colors with no pale pastel
shades. >> at 6:00 we'll visit the women's equality national monument in washington, d.c. and see the work of a cartoonist. >> she creates a youthful intelligent woman. you can see in the image she's slender. her skirt is above her ankles which was also quite different at that time. you see the changing face of fashion at that time as well. her hands are on her hips and she throws her hat into the ring of politics. >> a political cartoonist for the national wem's party from 1914 until 1927 she contributed over 150 cartoons in support of the women's suffrage campaign. at za evening at 8:00 p.m. eastern on lectures and history -- >> a 10th of the black population would lead the race to freedom. when she developed the notion there were 9 million african americans of this 9 million, less than 20,000 had a college
degree. >> georgetown university professor maurice jackson on w.e.b. deboys, his early life, role as an educator and his relationship with other activists. at 10:00 with the approach of the 40th anniversary of the smithsonian's air and national space museum in july, reel america will look at the 1966 film "science reporter" food for space travelers, examining the problem of feeding astronauts in weightlessne weightlessness. the use of algae, bacteria or a combination thereof where you would have a small farm in space, a microchasm and you would regenerate oxygen and pick up co2. >> for the complete american history tv weekend schedule go to c-span.org.
book tv has 48 hours of nonfiction books and authors every weekend. here are some programs coming up this weekend. this saturday and sunday at 11:00 a.m. eastern, book tv is live from the 32nd annual printers row lit fest, one of the large e free outdoor literary events. saturday features thomas frank, author of "listen liberal" or whatever happened to the party of the people, seymour hersh with his book "the killing of osama bin laden." on sunday elizabeth hinton from the war on poverty to the war on crime, sidney blumenthal
discusses his book, a self made man, a political life of abraham lincoln, and bradley bier zer with russell kirk, american conserve tf. saturday night oklahoma congressman tome cole talks about his personal library and his reading habits. sunday night at 9:00 on afterwards, california senator barbara boxer talks about her book "the art of tough, fearlessly facing politics and life" plus her life and career in politics. snare boxer is interviewed by amy cloeb shar. >> so i said, you know, that's all well and good. but if we have to turn back and walk down the stairs now, there's a bank of cameras down there and we're going to tell them that we weren't able to see anybody. she said, just a minute. and she goes back. she says, okay, gon